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HUMANISTIC EDUCATION                 175

as models for the modern world, and believed that all essential
knowledge on the main concerns of life, whether in law, medicine,
or science, were to be found in their writings.

Yet even in his cosmopolitanism he was very distinctively
a man of the north. All his educational work was done in view
of the needs of the countries he knew best. " In my youth,"
he says, " such gross barbarism prevailed in our Germany that
it was counted heresy to have anything to do with Greek literature.
For this reason I have tried in my own feeble way to raise the
young people from the mire of ignorance to pure studies. I have
not written for Italy but for Holland, Brabant and Flanders."*
This indicates precisely his position in the history of scholarship
and of education. He stood between the south and the north,
and helped to translate the new learning from the land in which
it had its original home to Teutonic lands. And he did so because
his own mind though steeped in the classics was fundamentally
northern, kindred with those he sought to teach.

This is plainly to be discerned in his whole manner of approach-
ing educational problems. The very idea of scholarship as a
means of grace, which is always in the forefront of his thought,
shows his mental affinities with the deeply moral and religious
view of life characteristic of English and German speaking
peoples. Though he believed firmly that " a man ignorant
of letters is no man at all," he had really little concern with
scholarship merely for the sake of scholarship. For him culture
has its justification in the fact that it bears directly on good
living. " The first and most important part of education," he
says, " is that the youthful mind may receive the seeds of piety;
next, that it'may love and thoroughly learn the liberal studies;
third, that it may'be prepared for the duties of life; and fourth,
that it may from the earliest days be accustomed to the rudiments
of good manners."! No Italian would have put piety in this
position of pre-eminence, or emphasized quite so much the in-
timate connection of learning with conduct. Even Vittorino,
who comes nearest Erasmus in this respect, was not so directly
practical as he.

His careful analytical consideration of the process of education,
again, is highly characteristic. Though never a teacher of

* Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, ii, 132 n.

t D* CiviUtat* Morum puerilium, quoted Woodward, Erasmus, p. 73.